by Hartt Wixom
Too Much Beauty for Just One Country
Every soul on Earth should lay eyes on Glacier National Park at least once. Going to the Sun Highway to Logan Pass is a special experience with not only towering snow-laden peaks all around, but high waterfalls, peaceful lakes like McDonald and the chance anywhere of seeing mountain sheep and goats. The latter like to dip off the slopes to the large packing lot at Logan. (Dogs are used to keep them away from cars.)
An ideal way to get there from the Dixie area is to take two days by recreational vehicle, stopping once near the Idaho-Montana border and then camping in say, the Sprague at bottom of the Sun Highway. This is the way I did it many years ago when driving to Alaska via Glacier. If one wants to drive down the east side of Logan Pass, there are many more serene lakes and tumbling streams.
There are many hiking trails in the park. One of the easiest is to Hidden Lake at 2.8 miles round trip. Many are a 10 miles or more for the hardy. Chance of encountering a grizzly? Always possible. Best to walk in groups and make noise. But actually, reports of injury are far less than one per cent of those on the trails. Nor do you need to walk anywhere from the road to enjoy the magnificent scenery. And if you prefer not to do the driving, tours take off from McDonald Lake Lodge on a periodic basis. Several of these are conducted by native Americans whose ancestors lived here before Whitemen arrived.
You can also rent a canoe or kayak to have a different view of the park’s wonders. To reserve a water craft or room at one of the lodges, call (855) 733-452. To reserve a campsite, call (877) 737-3783. Note: if you have an especially lengthy RV, check with park officials about narrow road corridors near Logan Pass.
Enroute to Glacier you will probably see many whitetail deer, which abound at this lower elevation (3,500 feet above sea level) south of the park. Higher up, you might see mule deer and possibly elk. Much of the roadway follows the massive Flathead River (named after a local Indian tribe)with a chance of spotting eagles and waterfowl.
Getting to the park includes many miles of scenic beauty through the Flathead National Forest. Follow the Montana highway map around the east side of Flathead Lake on U.S. 83 (fastest route) to the community of Big Fork and then follow highway signs on U. S. 2 north to West Glacier at edge of the park. My favorite route north from St. George is via I-15 to Butte, Mont., then I-90 to SH 200 and then north on 83. If you travel the west side of Flathead Lake, you will enter Kalispell and then take U.S. 2 to Glacier. If you wish to travel to Canada’s Waterton National Park, drive out the east entrance. Have passport/ birth certificate handy.
There will be many campgrounds across Montana, including some marked for fishermen along trout streams. But fishing or not, free campsites furnished by the state in the northern sector are not scarce.